Monday, April 12, 2010
Barry Butterworth 40 Lap Classic
It's not often the crowd is stunned into silence at a speedway meeting, but this one will be forever remembered for 11a Shayne Alach's scary exit from the track that could so easily have been another headline grabbing media frenzy. During an incident filled 40 lap feature for the Barry Butterworth Classic that had already seen some of the major contenders taken out early (we were robbed of the Pickens v Mosen battle sadly), Alach's car appeared to accelerate, make contact and start wildly flipping towards the fence in turn 3. As we now know, the car carried on over the fence and hit a truck inside the pits. Thankfully no one was badly injured, the midget car perhaps not so good but still one of those freaky accidents that hopefully wont happen again too soon. I guess part of the shock was that it seemed inevitable that someone would be badly injured. The fact that no one was, and also that this part of the pits is usually occupied by the Ministocks also added to the 'what if...' scenario that ran through your mind before the commentary team gave the all clear.
That incident was just part of a very good nights entertainment from the Midgets, a class that really seem to turn it on when they race at WP and with excellent prize money on offer and a good size crowd you could hardly go wrong. A few new ideas also being brought to the meeting by the promoters with the drivers parade on Harleys before their interviews, the grid draw for the final with each driver choosing the driver to start ahead of them (done in front of the main grandstand) which was a great new initiative and something I hadn't seen before - well done. There were other things mentioned like the 'Calcutta' and 'Flowerbox start' that went over my head but I guess we are talking 'old dog, new trick' here. Good to see something fresh I guess.
As to the actual race, 81a Michael Kendall pretty much took control about a third of the way into it, Carl Worboys and Michael Brunt taking the other podium positions. Not quite as good as last seasons Classic but still a great race and worthy of the Butterworth name. One thing I do enjoy about this meeting is that like a lot of the people in the crowd, I'm not a regular open-wheel fan so you get more of a sense of what Joe Public feel like coming to a speedway meeting and I think most would have left the Park well satisfied.
The supporting races included Stockcars who had a fairly quiet night perhaps saving their best for Kihikihi on Sunday. The ex 1p tank of Peter Rees made its debut raced by Billy Neill (who's own car I was told has apparently sold to another Auckland driver) and the tank showed it will be a potent addition to the local ranks. 95a Gary Lonergan took out the feature on the eve of defending his King Country title at KK. I'd also like to mention the printed programme that had some good articles and a 'Barry Butterworth timeline' listing some of his incredible achievements over the years compiled by James Selwyn. He really was an incredible talent and I think WP can be proud of the meeting they put on in his name. Funny thing is the woman sitting in front of me had quite an exchange with the people sitting around her when she said "Ted Tracy was a better driver" and suddenly the whole TT v BB debate started, it felt like we were back at Western Springs...
Meeting rating : 7.5/10
Footnote: There is mention in the programme of a book about Barry Butterworth called 'One Tough Dude' that is being written by Allan Batt which should be finished late 2010. If you want updates on progress email: email@example.com
A link to the Shayne Alach incident caught by Petrolfumes is here.